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My niece is 15 months old, and has inherited a combination of the worst traits of her parent's hair: it's very very fine, like her mother's (and mine), and grows at all sorts of odd angles, like her father's. It's now gotten long enough to hang into her eyes, but it's not long enough to be tucked behind her ears. We fight a never ending (and losing) battle to brush it out of her face.

  • Cutting it seems like a temporary solution at best, because it'll just grow again. Plus, I can't imagine getting her to stay still long enough to even attempt a haircut.

  • Barrettes and clips slide right out. If gravity doesn't do the job on its own, the niece does her head shaking thing and out flies the clip. (Which she then promptly puts into her mouth, but I digress.)

    • Yes, we've tried the various "non-slip" barrettes with rubberized this or sticky that or whatever. They're obviously designed for way more hair than my niece possesses.
  • Rubber bands stay put only slightly better than clips. And as soon as she notices that there's something in her hair, she grabs it and takes it out. (And yes, puts it into her mouth.)

  • Headbands (either the plastic arc type or the large rubber band type) are a lovely toy, but are not to go anywhere near the head. At least according to my niece.

I find myself wondering if they make hair gel for toddlers. Help?

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I'll note that my mother's experience in this matter isn't much help, because at 15 months, my sister and I had hardly started to grow hair. By the time our hair was long enough to be an issue, we were old enough to brush it out of our eyes for ourselves. –  Martha Nov 8 '11 at 2:37
You should be an author - I love your writing style! Back to the topic: I think the "pro-haircut" answers are on to something. You've tried everything else. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Nov 8 '11 at 19:36
@Martha - count your blessings. I have the same problem with my youngest (she's 3 and this started at 1.5 as well) - except my wife flat out refuses to allow her hair to be cut ! :( I would strongly recommend a haircut - they aren't that frequently needed (say every 2 months) and pretty easy to do at that age as you don't need a model-perfect looks –  user3143 Nov 9 '11 at 14:35

8 Answers 8

up vote 4 down vote accepted

My 20 month old daughter also seems to like having her hair loose in her face (pulling out any clips or bands etc.). So usually we just allow her to choose.

They do make "non-toxic" hairgel/mist for kids, but my preferred solution (temporary, but easy to do in a moment) is simply to brush her hair back toward her ears with plain water. She seems to like that, and her hair is very fine and mostly straight so it kind of sticks there for long enough to eat or play a game or take 'presentable' photos or whatever. (The baby hairspray does stick better but water has served our needs.)

It has recently gotten long enough to reach behind her ears, so may get easier for you in a few months.

Rubber bands that are so tight she can't pull them out did seem to work (I dislike them... pigtails near the temples... but when we occasionally use daycare someone there puts them in) and surprisingly she doesn't seem to persist on trying to get them out when she finds it's not easy.

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I was going to suggest the same thing--the extremely tight clear rubber bands that look like the rubber bands that kids who have braces use. They're tiny and unless your niece is winning to yank out her own hair, they won't come out until you take them out. I use these with my daughter who absolutely MUST have her hair out of her face--she wears contacts and I can't have her hair physically getting in her eyes. –  Meg Coates Mar 6 '12 at 14:55

Does she care if it is in her eyes?

  • If not, leave it - it will eventually get longer
  • If so, cut it - it is fine to cut hair regularly :-)
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It's a heath problem. My kid tends to rub her eyes - with usually dirty hands - to get hair out of them. –  user3143 Nov 9 '11 at 14:37
I guess there is a possibility of showing her how to rub across her forehead instead? With all of mine I just let their hair grow until it was long enough to put in a scrunchie or clips - there was definitely a phase when it was around the eyes, then another when it was always in their mouths, and a further one where it ended up in their food if they forgot to tie it all back. –  Rory Alsop Nov 9 '11 at 14:52

If she won't stay still long enough to cut the hair do what my wife does, put the child to sleep on a towel then cut the hair slowly, holding onto it. You shouldn't get much hair on the bed and you can usually move a sleeping child enough to get the towel out, or move them back to the bed if you want to try putting them to sleep somewhere else first. Cutting is always temporary, but its a better solution if you don't want to worry about things in the hair getting put in the mouth later on.

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I did this with mine a lot. It doesn't need to be permanent because after a while they are old enough to find other solutions. –  user6365 Jan 16 '14 at 5:22

Why is at a concern? Do you really need to worry about it?

I don't see that there is a safety or hygiene issue with hair hanging in front of the eyes. About the only thing I can think of appearance, which is fine, but not all that urgent.

It sounds like you have exhausted all of the alternatives except the hair cut. If it really is necessary to control the hair, then you need to get it cut.

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My kid tends to rub her eyes - with usually dirty hands - to get hair out of them. So it is likely to become a safety/hygiene issue. –  user3143 Nov 9 '11 at 14:38

Considering the fate of all the other things that end up in your niece's hair, I would suggest non-toxic gel if you do go that route. ;)

Your question is very thorough: it seems that you've attempted (and given up on) every solution I would try myself. The only thing left might be to keep her hair trimmed until she's old enough to not eat her hair clips.

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I have to ask, when you say your niece's hair 'grows out at all angles,' do you mean that it's straight and has a strange bend to it, or is it perhaps borderline curly?

I ask because sometimes hair that is borderline curly/wavy can LOOK straightish, but if it seems you're always having a bad hair day, she may actually be needing different care than usual straight hair. Borderline curly hair can be more brittle and hard to manage. It took me a while to realize my daughter's hair was actually curly - not just wild - and had to be treated differently than my hair.

There's a great book: Curly Girl - that deals with curly hair and folks with borderline curls (wild hair at odd angles). It sounds to me that your niece might fit the bill? That book recommends that you DON'T shampoo hair if you can avoid it. You just condition hair and maybe put mousse in it. (Shampoos are harsh on delicate, fine hair.)

I know that sounds totally counter-intuitive, but I tried that regimen and my daughter's impossible, stick-out everywhere hair suddenly smoothed out into these gorgeous ringlets. Her hair is so fine and dry and brittle that it needed lots of conditioning.

And I think hair products on a toddler (gel, mousse) may SOUND odd, but it's actually just fine so long as it's done in small amounts and is non-toxic and not eaten. Again, with the right treatment, we went from messy hair that was impossible to deal with to lovely hair in the space of a morning.

One last note, I find my toddler will put in hair ties, etc., but will yank them out the second she's in her carseat bored. If you can get your kiddo to wear hair stuff, bully for you. I sure can't. :)

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By the "odd angles", I mean that her hair follicles are not perpendicular to her scalp. She has a definite swirl going on at her crown, and you can't part her hair in the middle, because the hair on top of her head grows sideways. As far as washing, she gets baths almost every day (part of the bedtime routine), but her hair only gets shampooed once a week. –  Martha Dec 1 '11 at 4:44
I see. We have that problem running in my side of the family. Our hair grows forward, toward the face, rather than back to the neck. It's not something you can tell if cut right, but most people can't cut it right and it looks awful. We finally found a REALLY good stylist who understands hair like that. She can 'fake' a haircut that works with the hair rather than against it. It sounds to me like this might be a question for an excellent stylist (though not necessarily an expensive one). They're hard to find, but well worth it. (We've been with ours 20 years.) That could help with styling? –  sage Dec 1 '11 at 17:19

Would she wear a hat or headscarf? Maybe if she is allowed to select one?

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Why don't you take her with you and get her to select a nice colorful cloth elastic head band? In my experience it keeps the hair out of the eyes and gradually conditions it to grow or set in the other direction.

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